On February 10, 2020, Marcia Horowitz, a public relations and crisis communications pioneer -- and loving wife, mother, grandmother, relative, friend, and colleague -- passed on peacefully in an atmosphere of serenity surrounded by love. Although she did everything she could and handled her illness with grace and dignity, the ravages of pancreatic cancer took their toll. Marcia led a full, exciting and accomplished life -- professionally and personally. Among her wishes is to live on in happy memories, humor and inspiration, not grief and sorrow. Those who loved and admired her continue on the "Smooth River(TM)" she inspired.
Over her 41-year-career working closely with PR legend Howard Rubenstein, Marcia advised industry titans, major investors and CEOS, healthcare and hospital systems, philanthropic organizations, and celebrities on the most challenging and high-profile communications issues. She is widely recognized as one of the most accomplished professionals in her field.
Marcia was born on January 7, 1952, and was brought up by wonderful parents, Irving and Estelle Horowitz, in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. She earned a BA and MS in Journalism from Boston University and had only two jobs in her life. Upon graduating, she was hired by the New York City Mayoralty Campaign of Abraham Beame. During the campaign, Marcia quickly became a trusted member of Beame’s staff, and when he won the election, she was promoted to be a lead member of his press team. Four years later, another prominent New Yorker recognized her talent, and she embarked on her second job and a 41-year career, this time with Howard Rubenstein, who was building his firm, RUBENSTEIN, into a NYC PR powerhouse.
At RUBENSTEIN, Marcia quickly made a name for herself as a skilled strategist, savvy spokesperson and trusted advisor. Bold-name New Yorkers and reporters had her number on speed dial and could always count on her to be responsive, truthful and professional. Clients trusted Marcia because they knew she had their best interests at heart. She possessed an uncanny ability to grasp the key issues in complex situations, digest lengthy legal documents, and envision the likely press and public reaction to create powerful messaging that resonated with reporters and the public.
As a spokesperson and behind the scenes, she represented clients in some of the biggest stories of the day. She prepared leaders to testify at Congressional hearings about the dot com bust, provided trusted counsel to CEOs and investment firms during the financial crisis, helped steward the most prestigious law firms through a wide range of internal and external communications challenges, and guided dozens of clients through media firestorms surrounding some of the nation’s most high-profile legal disputes. And while many these situations were extremely stressful, Marcia was always ready to lighten the mood and alleviate stress with a witty one-liner or funny observation.
Over time, Marcia’s role in the company grew. She managed Rubenstein’s crisis and legal communications teams, and for many years led the corporate and financial services group, instilling in her team the lessons she learned from Howard: no matter what the issue, we should always “do the right thing.” That ethical standard continues today at RUBENSTEIN under the stewardship of Howard’s son, and President of the firm, Steven Rubenstein. Marcia worked closely with Steven to develop the firm’s talent, some of whom are among RUBENSTEIN’s top leadership today.
Marcia was an effective manager with a light touch. She valued people. She didn't sweat the small stuff, and knew how to put things in perspective and get the job done. If you ask her colleagues and team about her, the words you will hear to describe her include: thoughtful, kind, dedicated, an advocate, intelligent, tough, funny, and, “the best.”
Marcia’s esteemed list of clients included Estée Lauder Inc., PVH Corp., Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, Claire’s Accessories, American Eagle of AEO Management Co., Hostess Brands, LLC., Getty Oil of Westerhoudt AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Diebold Nixdorf, Inc., Revlon, Christian Dior Couture, Carlyle Investment Management LLC, Capstone Partners LP, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA CREF), Mount Sinai Health System, Hospital for Special Surgery, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York–Presbyterian Hospital, Jacques Cousteau and Family, Muriel Siebert and Family, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Winston & Strawn LLP, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, Loeb & Loeb LLP, DLA Piper, Proskauer Rose LLP, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP, Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Teachers College, Columbia University, Covenant House, and Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Marcia was the only non-lawyer on the Board of Directors of Volunteers of Legal Services, a position they created for her to add her unique perspective.
Marcia was more interested in promoting her clients than herself, and at the end of the day, was always most happy to head home to the warm embrace of her family and friends. She was a career woman before most women had careers, but was also a beloved wife, mother, and most recently, grandmother. She was devoted to her family and loved them dearly. She is survived by her husband, Richard Cohen; and their two grown sons, Jared and Adam. Marcia was also blessed to have a wonderful daughter-in-law, Antonia, and grandson Jayce.
Marcia enjoyed many athletic and interesting trips to Africa, Alaska, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Tuscany, Provence, Normandy, and many other places. Marcia was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer just weeks after she and Richard returned from Israel, Jordan and the West Bank, being hosted by a Palestinian, Ph.D.
Marcia loved being near the water, and she and Richard built a house near St. Petersburg, FL on the Intracoastal Waterway. The purifying, cleansing and peaceful properties of flowing water complemented her "keep it simple” unencumbered approach to life. Waterside benches are being installed in Marcia's honor on the Bronx River Pathway overlooking a duckpond opposite Hitchcock Presbyterian Church on Greenacres Avenue in Scarsdale. Another has been placed on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River and the Governor Mario Cuomo Bridge just off the Tarrytown River Walk at the end of Main Street in Tarrytown. Richard and Marcia took walks in these areas while Marcia was ill.
Marcia's big heart and talent extended into helping others and building bridges. She and her husband, Richard, have teamed up on several impactful outreach efforts:
Advising Mentoring in Medicine, a nonprofit that assists disadvantaged minorities enter the health profession, and designing and managing the creation of its website and strategic presentations.
Preparing strategic presentations for El Centro Hispano, a nonprofit that assists the Hispanic community. Marcia and Richard were Honorary Co-Chairs of its 45th Annual Gala in 2019 and the Early Childhood Program is named after them.
Assisting Women's Islamic initiative in Spirituality & Equality with publicity and promoting WISE-UP, a new guide to counter religious extremism.
Forming Marcia's Light Foundation, Inc., a private operating foundation that fosters grassroots relationship building among people of diverse backgrounds. The Foundation will do good and carry on Marcia's legacy to help other people.
We remember Marcia as an extraordinary and unique personality -- the essence of goodness coupled with keen intelligence, pragmatic realism and great judgment. Her ethos encompassed calm, peace, unselfishness, kindness and modesty.